On the floor where I lived last year, Elaine L. ’18 was known for always having baked goods to offer. She studies Course 6-3 at MIT, but in her free time, she blogs at FoodParsed, where she shares easy-to-make recipes with the rest of the world. If you’re interested in learning to cook, I would highly recommend checking it out!
Here’s her comprehensive guide to getting groceries as an MIT student.
I’ve been quietly mourning the loss of the Stata produce market for the past few months. Tuesdays used to be a glorious time. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Gates lobby of Stata would fill with rows of fresh, affordable produce, and I would pause my hectic day to lug home armfuls of groceries. Alas, the produce market closed this IAP. I refreshed the web page regularly to check its hours, but it never returned.
I felt a brief glimmer of hope when I heard that Russo’s, the grocery that used to run the Stata produce market, had started another in the Atrium (between 100 and 200 Technology Square). Unfortunately, all of the reviews have been overwhelmingly negative—the new place has worse location, hours, prices, and selection.
As a result, my produce sources have become a lot more scattered. I’ve been relying on the grocery stores listed in the previous MIT groceries guide, and I’ve scouted out some other sources nearby. Here’s an updated map of the locations. Below, I’ve compiled some of my favorite options:
Farmers markets near MIT open only during the warmer months and vary in price and selection. I haven’t been to these markets, but you can check them out if you’re going to be at MIT over the summer.
Kendall Square Market
Location: 350 Kendall Street
Dates: Thursdays 11 am – 2 pm, June – October
Central Square Market
Location: Bishop Allen Drive & Norfolk Street
Dates: Mondays 12 pm – 6 pm, May 16 – November 21
Previously, I had dismissed Whole Foods as being too expensive for college students. However, you can shop at Whole Foods without breaking your budget provided you are very, very careful.
Location: 115 Prospect Street
This location sells conventional produce in addition to organic produce. You can also use the bulk bins to stock up on grains and nuts.
Location: 96 Blackstone Street
Dates: Fridays, Saturdays dawn to dusk (around 6 am – 6 pm)
If you’re willing to make the trek, you can buy produce for a huge discount. Come at closing time, and stock up as vendors clear their stalls.
Boston Public Market
Location: 100 Hanover Street
Dates: Wednesday-Sunday, 8 am – 8 pm
Next to the Haymarket, the Boston Public Market is an indoor market for locally sourced food. I don’t know how good the prices are, but it seems worth a stop.
Location: 109 Lincoln Street
Located in Chinatown, CMart is an Asian grocery store with reasonable prices on produce, meat, and Asian specialty items. It has all sorts of fruits from lychee to dragonfruit, but oddly, lacks bananas.
Location: Boston Chinatown
If you wander around Chinatown, you’ll stumble across several street vendors. Generally, I’ve found the prices to be reasonable. Most don’t speak English, so you’ll have to point and gesticulate.
CSA farm shares
When you join a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm share, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer, so you can directly support local agriculture. Every week, you get a box with the week’s harvest. Over the summer, Clover has a program where you can buy groceries from local farmers and get them delivered to Clover nearby.
Farm shares aren’t the best option for most people. The farmer picks the selection and quantities, so you may end up with, say, 10 pounds of rutabagas. Finding creative recipes for odd vegetables brings me great joy, but may stress out most people.
Unfortunately, none of these options come close to the convenience of the Stata market. Without supplemental produce, will MIT students succumb to scurvy and sodium overload? Only time will tell. RIP Stata. We miss you.